Greg Rybarczyk's Home Run Tracker (formerly known as the more catchy Hit Tracker) is a fantastic toy. Therein are listed all home runs from the last seven years according to a bunch of sortable data, complete with park overlays and video links. Here in this post I will present to you the most notable home runs of the 2012 Red Sox season according to measurements such as true distance*, speed and angle off the bat, and height.
* True distance is defined as follows: "If the home run flew uninterrupted all the way back to field level, the actual distance the ball traveled from home plate, in feet."
Hardest Hit Home Run (link--in case the embedded video doesn't work)
Off of Drew Smyly, Fenway 5/30
Speed off bat: 114.2 mph
True distance: 396 ft.
Most people would probably prioritize distance when measuring homers, but since temperature, humidity, wind, and altitude can have such strong effects, I'm going first for speed off the bat to find the best home run. Will Middlebrooks has tremendous right-handed power. This is what he does when a lefty offers him a first-pitch changeup at 84 mph.
Boom--he instantly adds 30 mph to the ball in the other direction. That line drive bullet edged out the next dinger by the narrowest of margins.
Longest Home Run (link)
Off of Cliff Lee, Citizens Bank Park 5/20
True distance: 466 ft.
Speed off bat: 114.1 mph
So Jarrod Saltalamacchia hits one home run against lefties all year long, and of course it's off Cliff Lee and travels 466 feet. That is so Salty. And okay, since this one was basically tied with Middlebrooks' for hardest hit, I have to say this is the most impressive Red Sox home run of the season. Once again it's a changeup (85 mph) from a lefty to a righty.
This blast is tied with Miguel Cabrera for the eleventh longest homer in the majors this season. It was by far the Red Sox' longest. The second longest was also by Saltalamacchia, off of righty Scott Feldman in Arlington at 449 ft. (true distance). Tied for the longest home run, non-Salty division, are the twin sluggers Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto, at 444 ft. (sure, that makes sense).
Lowest Home Run (link)
Off of Aaron Laffey, Rogers Centre 9/14
Apex: 51 ft.
Elevation angle off bat: 21.4°
Speed off bat: 109.9 mph
True distance: 374 ft.
That may have reached the lowest height of any other Red Sox home run this year, but more impressive is this next one:
Home Run Hit at Lowest Angle off the Bat (link)
Off of Paul Maholm, Wrigley 6/17
Elevation angle off bat: 19.6°
Speed off bat: 110.8 mph
Apex: 60 ft.
True distance: 424 ft.
Watch Ortiz absolutely murder this 83-mph changeup.
Off a lefty, no less. Would you like to see another?
Most Perpendicular Home Run (link)
Off of Drew Smyly, Fenway 5/30
Horizontal angle: 90.1°
Speed off bat: 104.7 mph
True distance: 425 ft.
The right foul line being at a 45° angle, and the left foul line being at a 135° angle, this drive by Big Papi is the most straightaway, dead-center home run of the Red Sox season, in terms of initial direction of the ball after being hit. And once in the air, you can see it doesn't stray far from dead center.
Only three homers in all the majors this year were measured at a perfect 90.0° angle off the bat (one of them by Eric Chavez off Clay Buchholz at Fenway), so this shot by Ortiz is about as close as it gets.
And yeah, that was the same inning as Middlebrooks' bullet shown above. Special credit to Drew Smyly for serving up the Red Sox' straightest and hardest homers of the year, without recording so much as a single out between them.
Speaking of Middlebrooks, these next two items comprise a very special feat.
Most Opposite-field Home Run (link)
Off of Jonathan Sanchez, Kauffman Stadium 5/7, 1st inning
Horizontal angle off bat: 57.1° (12.1° off the foul line)
Speed off bat: 95.8 mph
True distance: 357 ft.
A terrible lefty offers Will a first-pitch fastball up in the zone at 89 mph:
Most Pulled Home Run (link)
Off of Tim Collins, Kauffman Stadium 5/7, 8th inning
Horizontal angle off bat: 125.9° (9.1° off the foul line)
Speed off bat: 103.3 mph
True distance: 372 ft.
A competent lefty offers Will a second-pitch inside changeup (after a first-pitch changeup in the dirt) at 85 mph:
Salty batting left-handed once pulled a ball at a 54.6° angle (9.6° off the foul line), and Adrian Gonzalez went opposite field at a 120.2° angle (14.8° off the foul line), but no one for the Red Sox hit home runs at more extreme horizontal angles than Will Middlebrooks did, and both within the span of a single game.
Tallest Home Run (link)
Off of Rafael Soriano, Yankee Stadium 10/2
Apex: 140 ft.
Elevation angle off bat: 36.9°
Speed off bat: 101.3 mph
True distance: 359 ft.
There's an insurance run for you, Bailey. Don't blow it!
Home Run Hit at Highest Angle off the Bat (link)
Off of Corey Kluber, Progressive Field 8/12
Elevation angle off bat: 38.7°
Speed off bat: 97.1 mph
Apex: 131 ft.
True distance: 355 ft.
This was a high inside fastball at 93 mph that Gonzo did an amazing job turning on.
Softest Hit Home Run (link)
Off of Ryan Dempster, Fenway 8/7
Speed off bat: 92.3 mph
True distance: 359 ft.
It's time to add to Middlebrooks' foul pole to foul pole stunt above, for the author of the Red Sox' hardest hit home run also hit the softest. Pinch-hitting for Punto, Will just got enough of Dempster's slider to put it onto the ledge of the Monster.
That was Middlebrooks' second-to-last home run of the year; three days later his wrist would be broken by a 96-mph Esmil Rogers fastball.
Shortest Home Run (link)
Off of Addison Reed, Fenway 7/19
True distance: 338 ft.
Speed off bat: 95.5 mph (also one of the softest of the year)
Without a doubt my favorite hit of the year for the Red Sox was Daniel Nava's three-run double off Justin Verlander. We all swore that the team would fail to get above .500 for the sixth opportunity in a row. Then Daniel Nava worked the count full, and Justin Verlander threw a 100-mph heater. That was such an amazing at-bat. Second on the list, though, has to be the season's most memorable home run. It was also the shortest all year.
That was tied for the 17th shortest home run in the majors this year, as measured by true distance. Where would Red Sox Nation's esteem of Cody Ross be, I wonder, if this had been a flyout?